The Cortez Police Department released details Monday regarding an investigation of an officer-involved shooting Sept. 13 outside Wendys restaurant.
In the incident, police Sgt. Larry Henson fired a gun at the tire of a vehicle driven by 37-year-old Leslie Rutland in the restaurant parking lot in downtown Cortez.
According to a written statement from the police department, a review panel comprising CPD Sgt. Gary Gatzke, CPD Officer Dave Allmon and local resident Jim Bob Wynes ruled the shooting justified.
One of the reasons, the panel determined, was the driver was a wanted felon, with a felony warrant for auto theft from Rancin County, Miss.
According to Sgt. Hensons report of the incident, and CPD Officer Angelo Martinezs companion report, dispatch advised the officers of the felony warrant before the shooting took place.
Colorado Revised Statute 18-12-107.5 states a peace officer may use force to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of physical force.
According to Hensons report, Rutland was displaying symptoms of alcohol consumption and was reaching between the front seats.
Further, the same statute says force may be used while preventing or attempting to prevent such an escape.
Hensons report alleges Rutland did not comply with an order to exit the vehicle. Rutland allegedly said, I dont (expletive) think so, then accelerated the vehicle and brushed against Henson with the drivers side door.
The police statement said this placed Henson in further danger.
It is unclear if other officers or members of the community were also placed in danger, but it was apparent to this review board that (Rutland) had no regard for the safety of the public.
Henson was not placed on leave after the incident.
Police reports allege the vehicle then sped out of the Wendys parking lot, ran a stop sign and almost collided with several vehicles while crossing Main Street.
Police report pursuing the vehicle north on Washington Street, where it blew through a stop sign while turning onto Montezuma Avenue, missing another vehicle by inches.
The driver then slammed on his brakes, causing smoke to come from the tires as it turned onto North Beech Street, according to police reports. While attempting to turn onto Arbecam Avenue, the vehicle collided with a curb and teetered onto two wheels, and then the driver got out of the vehicle and put his hands on his head. Rutland was ordered to the ground at gunpoint and taken into custody, at which point he allegedly admitted to having too much to drink.
Rutland is charged with vehicular eluding, third-degree assault, theft, DUI and reckless driving. He awaits a preliminary hearing set for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 12.
He is suspected in the theft of a beer from a Cortez convenience store earlier that day.
Reach Reid Wright at email@example.com.